Dear Friend & Colleague,
The information I’m going to share with you this month comes from one of the true advertising geniuses of our time. If you combine all the newspaper advertising he’s purchased for himself and his clients, his company would be the third largest newspaper advertiser in the United States!
The man I’m talking about is the true legend of direct response advertising, Gary Halbert.
Gary primarily does full page advertising but, nonetheless the points he makes have direct application for your advertising efforts.
As an example, I advised a client of ours with this same information. He took an ad that had produced 2 calls in a Sunday paper to 47 calls two weeks later. It was the exact same ad, exact same newspaper, exact same city…everything!
So, let’s get to the heart of what made the difference. In the past, it has often been said that the three most important factors in choosing investment real estate are (1) location, (2) location and, (3) location. I think that’s probably true. And when it comes to running ads in newspapers, a similar precept needs to be held in mind. Namely, that the most important factor of all is…
Position! Position! Position!
Understand something. The #1 reason people don’t respond to a newspaper ad is because they don’t see it! Daily newspapers are huge. Many of them are several hundred pages thick. In fact, a recent issue of the L.A. times contained 405 pages!
Whoee! You sure could get lost in there, couldn’t you?
In the past, I’ve always tried to drum home the point that Americans sort through their mail standing over the waste basket. It’s a good mental image to have when you prepare a mail piece. It slams home the importance of grabbing their attention with a “killer” headline…a powerful, self-serving benefit to your reader. Basically, you’ve got one or two seconds!
Now, here’s something else for you to keep in mind:
As soon as people sit down to peruse their daily newspapers, they immediately divide it into sections.
A man may ask his wife for the sports pages. The wife might zero in on the entertainment section. Entrepreneurs may want the business section. Gossip mongers may pick up the society pages. And so on.
But, nobody reads the entire paper. In fact, hardly anybody opens up more than two or three sections. Think about it, do you?
So, what does this all mean to you on a practical basis? This: that the very best place your ads can appear for maximum visibility (and hence, maximum readership) is on the front side of a section.
And the second best place? It’s the back of a section.
Here’s why. You see, even though most people don’t read or even open up every section, most people at least touch every section. Yes, they touch it if for no other reason than to pick it up to hand it to someone else or to throw it away. And, while they are thus handling each section, they are forced to at least glance at the front pages of those sections and (to a lesser degree) the back pages of said sections.
And, of course, while they are glancing at those pages, should they happen to see an eye-catching ad, an ad with a “killer” headline, they just might read a couple of paragraphs to see what it’s all about. And if those first couple paragraphs are real good, then just maybe they’ll read the rest of the ad. And, if all that happens, who knows, maybe you’ll get a call.
So, know this: your first job is not to get your customer to read your ad. No. Your first job is to get them to see your ad!
It’s just common sense.
If you can’t get your ad placed on the front or back side of the section, work for second best. Get your ad placed in the upper half, right hand page, as close to the front of the section as possible. Preferably the upper right hand corner.
This is the number one secret to effective newspaper advertising…position!
Now for number two. In a nutshell, the second biggest secret is:
Make Your Ads Look Like A News Story
Don’t make your ads look like an ad. Don’t use line art. Don’t use arrows, cute graphics, reverse type (except maybe to highlight a phone number), weird typestyles…
Or anything else that might win an award
for graphic design
Come closer. Listen. Here is how to put together ads that are 500% more likely to get seen and hence, read. A cunningly, careful, highly scientific examination of reader habits yields a useful piece of data.
Editorial material (or material that appears to be editorial) gets 500% more readership than material that is obviously advertising.
Think about that.
So…once you get your ad positioned well, make it grab your readers’ attention. Write it in an editorial style with a headline that telegraphs your biggest self-serving benefit to your reader!
Don’t make it look like an ad. That’s what everyone else does. In fact, so much so, that looking through the real estate section becomes an eye strain.
Capitalize on this fact. Make your ads stand apart. Box them and format them just like a news article and they will stand apart. And, they’ll achieve your first objective…to get them seen! Plus, it will increase the likelihood of it getting read by 500%, provided the headline grabs them and the rest of the ad is well written.
Don’t limit this approach to just newspaper advertising either. Take these same fundamentals and…
Use Them in Your Magazine Ads Too!
Pick up a recent copy of a local homes magazine. Look through. Do you notice anything? Do you see how all the ads start to look the same?
Sameness = boring! And, one thing I can assure you of, is people will not allow themselves to be bored in print. It’s one form of communication in which you can’t afford sameness.
Now, when I say sameness, I mean you can’t afford to look and sound like everybody else. By no means am I saying you need to change all the time. In fact, just the opposite is true.
When agents find an effective method of advertising, they usually grow tired of it way before the market does. They change just for the sake of change. Which is foolish and costly.
My point? Make your ads stand out. Be different. Use some of the ideas presented here and watch the responses multiply. And when you find something that works…work the dog out of it. Work it until it completely runs out of gas. And while you are working the new approach, plan your next stage, but don’t quit using a profitable method until it’s no longer profitable! Once it’s no longer profitable, move on to your newly planned out approach.
What Was Once Successful Can Still be Successful!
Another suggestion. Think back through your previous advertising efforts. Think about your most successful direct mail piece, advertisement…whatever. Re-visit that approach in your mind.
If you think about it, that approach may have direct application right this very minute. But you discarded it just for the sake of change. If you had an approach that worked particularly well, you should get it out, dust it off and try it again. You may find that it will work equally well…right now!
A New Idea!
First I want to thank all the agents who’ve been sharing their secrets with us. We really appreciate you taking the time to call or fax us your ideas. Virtually all the ideas will be covered, at some point, in up-coming newsletters.
This idea comes to us from an exceptionally creative and effective agent in Kenmore, NY.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, John shows other professionals he’s networked with in his community (doctors, accountants, insurance agents, etc.) how his response hotline works.
John keeps the greeting on his response hotline generic. This way he can offer these professionals an opportunity to use one of his extensions for a flat fee of ten dollars per month.
Now, generally, they won’t use more than ten dollars. If they do, he suggests that they get their own response hotline and he gives them our number. This gives him an opportunity to pick up a referral fee. But, more importantly…it strengthens his network. It has these other professionals feeling indebted to him because he’s continually thinking about ways to bring more value to their businesses. In turn, they want to bring more value to his. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The moral of the story? Whenever you come across ideas that can be of value (i.e. response hotlines, marketing ideas, whatever…) to other professionals…share! You’ll build your referral base stronger and we all know referrals are the best thing since sliced bread.
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